July Brings Maryland Produce, Ice Cream
Published in the June 29, 2019, edition of Lancaster Farming
By Secretary Joe Bartenfelder
July is just around the corner, which means we are heading into peak season for Maryland produce! It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy some delicious Maryland sweet corn, or sink your teeth into a Mar-Delicious watermelon. Our state grows such a wide variety of fresh, quality produce that we have a little something for everyone to enjoy.
I was reminded of that as I reviewed the recipes we received for Governor Larry Hogan’s Buy Local Cookout. Each year, the Governor and First Lady host cookout featuring dishes prepared by Maryland chefs using locally sourced ingredients. This event marks the kickoff of our Buy Local Challenge week (July 20-28), which asks all Marylanders to take a pledge to include at least one Maryland-grown or produced item in their meals each day.
We received more than 40 recipes for this year’s event, and 16 were chosen to participate in the cookout. First Lady Yumi Hogan and the Government House staff will also prepare an entrée and dessert for the event.
The Buy Local Cookout is a great opportunity to showcase the many delicious options available right here in our state. Thanks to our hard-working family farmers, watermen and producers, we can offer a vast array of diverse, creative dishes. This year’s cookout will feature everything from duck-stuffed pork, to blue catfish gazpacho, to my personal favorite, beef and mushroom sliders.
All of this year’s recipe submissions will be published in the 2019 Maryland Buy Local Cookout Recipes, which will include wine, beer or spirits pairing recommendations from the Maryland Wineries Association, Brewers Association of Maryland and the Maryland Distillers Guild. The cookbook will be available online when completed next month.
MDA has published several cookbooks full of recipes from years past that can be made with local products. Some are simple and quick, others are more complex. Past cookbooks are available free online http://mda.maryland.gov/Pages/Buy-Local-Cookout.aspx.
During Buy Local Challenge Week, we encourage everyone to support Maryland’s farmers, watermen and producers by purchasing at least one locally grown, made or harvested product each day. After trying it for a week, we hope you will continue that practice every day of the year.
The Buy Local Challenge, created in 2006 by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, has grown into a statewide initiative that has continued to evolve. In its latest Policy Choices Survey, the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy found that more than 78 percent of Marylanders said they want to buy produce grown by a Maryland farmer.
Sign up for the challenge online at: www.buy-local-challenge.com/
National Ice Cream Month/Dairy Margin Coverage Program
I know we are just now wrapping up National Dairy Month, but I hope you are not tired of ice cream just yet! July is National Ice Cream Month, and there is no better way to celebrate than visiting one of our nine on-farm creameries along the Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail. This is a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends on a working dairy farm and learn more about what goes into producing this delicious summer staple.
As for our dairy farmers, I want remind everyone that the sign-up period is now open for the USDA’s Dairy Margin Coverage program. As I mentioned in last month’s column, Governor Hogan has included $1.5 million in his budget to cover premium costs for Maryland dairy farmers participating in the program. We have hosted a series of informational meetings across the state with USDA FSA and University of Maryland Extension to get the word out. Visit your local USDA FSA office to sign up today!